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TODD SMITH — PR spending, staffing on rise over next 5 years

TODD SMITH

Brands plan to increase both internal staffing and overall spending on public relations over the next five years, according to a new report conducted by the Association of National Advertisers (ANA) and the USC Center for Public Relations at the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism.

Conducted this winter, the survey was designed to shed light on the public relations perceptions of client-side marketers.

Sixty-two percent of respondents answered that they planned to increase internal public relations staffing over the next five years and a full 75 percent said they planned to increase overall spending on PR over that same time period. Over the current year, 16 percent of respondents said they planned to increase internal PR staffing and 25 percent said they planned to increase overall spending on PR.

“Public relations as a discipline is clearly evolving and becoming more important to marketers,” ANA group executive vice president Bill Duggan said in a statement. “And PR is being fueled by the rise and omnipresence of digital communications. Digital has put PR front and center, as it allows immediate outbound communication and inbound feedback.”

“Our findings clearly predict a convergence of PR and marketing over the next five years,” added USC Center for Public Relations director Fred Cook. “It’s going to be very interesting to see how that merger plays out in agencies and organizations.”

Fifty-four percent of respondents said that public relations would change over the next five years by becoming “more closely aligned with marketing,” while 18 percent went as far as to say it would “become a subset of marketing.”

There was widespread consensus on how public relations can most effectively demonstrate its value.

Eighty-nine percent of respondents agreed that demonstrating “how public relations programs achieve measurable business objectives” would accomplish that. Other top responses included improved “measurement of results” (53 percent), demonstrating “leadership on key business initiatives” (46 percent) and working “across all departments and business units” (44 percent).

Digital trends are of the utmost importance to the future of public relations, according to the survey. When asked to rank the importance of individual trends, respondents indicated that “social listening” and “digital storytelling” were their primary concerns.

Attitudes About News Media Divided Among Partisan Lines

Democrats and Republicans, who already tend to place their trust in different news sources and rely on different outlets for political news, now disagree more than ever on a fundamental issue of the news media’s role in society: whether news organizations’ criticism of political leaders primarily keeps them from doing things they shouldn’t – or keeps them from doing their job.

Today, in the early days of the Trump administration, roughly nine-in-ten Democrats (89 percent) say news media criticism keeps leaders in line (sometimes called the news media’s “watchdog role”), while only about four-in-10 Republicans (42 percent) say the same. That is a 47-percentage-point gap, according to a new online survey conducted March 13-27, 2017, among 4,151 U.S. adults who are members of Pew Research Center’s nationally representative American trends panel. The gap stands in sharp contrast to January-February 2016, when Americans were asked the same question. Then, in the midst of the presidential primary season, nearly the same share of Democrats (74 percent) and Republicans (77 percent) supported the watchdog role.

Pew Research Center has asked this question since 1985. While Republicans have been more likely to support a watchdog role during Democratic presidencies and vice versa, the distance between the parties has never approached the 47-point gap that exists today. The widest gap up to now occurred during the George W. Bush administration, when Democrats were 28 points more likely than Republicans to support a watchdog role. It should be noted that prior to 2016, the question was asked by telephone rather than the web, which can elicit slightly different response patterns. Even taking possible mode effects into account, though, this year’s difference is so stark that it would still be the largest gap in the Center’s polling on this question.

This partisan split is found in other attitudes about the news media, though none in so dramatic a fashion as with the watchdog role. Compared with 2016, Democrats and Republicans are more divided on whether the press favors one side in its political coverage, on how much trust they have in national news media, and on how good a job national news organizations are doing in keeping them informed.

The divide in news media attitudes also extends to Americans’ behaviors around news. Most prominently, Americans are also paying closer attention to national news now than in 2016, with that increase driven by Democrats. Overall, four-in-ten Americans report following national news very closely, up from a third the year before. Among Democrats, about half (49 percent) say they follow it closely, also up from a third in 2016.

Democrats are also driving an increase in use of mobile devices for news. Nearly half of U.S. adults (45 percent) often get news on a mobile device. That is 9 percentage points above just a year ago, when 36 percent often got news this way, with significant growth occurring among Democrats but not Republicans. What’s more, an increasing share of Americans also prefer getting news on mobile over a desktop computer. Among those who get news on both types of devices, nearly two-thirds (65 percent) say they prefer mobile.

Finally, one aspect of news consumption is little changed in either party: the role of friends and family as sources of news. Fifteen percent of Americans have a lot of trust in news that comes to them from friends and family (slightly lower than the trust levels for local and national news organizations), and 16 percent of online news consumers often get news there from people close to them (about a third as many as do so from news organizations). These figures are on par with 2016 and show less partisan divide than other measures – just a 5-percentage-point gap, for instance, in trust of information from family and friends. There was a slight uptick in the share of Americans who say the political news they get from friends and family represents just one side rather than a mix (40 percent, up from 35 percent in 2016), with Democrats and Republicans equally likely to say this.

Golden Nugget Mic | Nugget-Seeking Teen Unseats Ellen For Most Retweets of All Time

Nevada teen Carter Wilkerson has successfully ousted Ellen DeGeneres for the world record of the most retweeted tweet of all time.

The title, previously held by DeGeneres at 3.4 million retweets, comes a little over a month after Wilkerson asked the Wendy’s Twitter account how many retweets he would need for a free year’s supply of chicken nuggets, and the company responded with “18 million.”

Since then, brands and celebrities have all poured their support for Wilkerson, from Apple Music, Google, and Microsoft to actor Aaron Paul, T-Mobile CEO John Legere, and Ellen DeGeneres herself. United tried to get in on the fun, too, but mostly this backfired just about immediately. Meanwhile, Twitter has granted Wilkerson a verified badge, and made a custom hashtag with emoji for the cause. It even included Wilkerson’s tweet in its Q1 shareholder letter.

Since the tweet went viral, Wilkerson has pivoted his objective a bit — promising that once the record is broken, Wendy’s will donate $100,000 to The Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption. Wendy’s also confirmed that the teen will get his nuggets, though it didn’t specify how many pieces he’ll be allotted per day. For the amount of press the company got though, complying with Wilkerson’s nuggets demand sounds like bargain. And for his teen hunger-induced plea heard round the Twittersphere, Wilkerson takes a big bite out of the Golden Nugget Mic!

Each week, The Spin Cycle will bestow a Golden Mic Award to the person, group or company in the court of public opinion that best exemplifies the tenets of solid PR, marketing and advertising – and those who don’t. Stay tuned – and step-up to the mic! And remember … Amplify Your Brand!

» Todd Smith is president and chief communications officer of Deane, Smith & Partners, a full-service branding, PR, marketing and advertising firm with offices in Jackson. The firm — based in Nashville, Tenn. — is also affiliated with Mad Genius. Contact him at todd@deanesmithpartners.com, and follow him @spinsurgeon. 

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